Published: March 3, 2020
Read as: OwlCrate edition
My rating: 4
Bone Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.
Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.
Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.
Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die. (Goodreads)
When this book came in my April 2020 OwlCrate box, I’ll be honest with you all, I had never heard of it. As far as my own browsing was concerned I hadn’t seen it pop on any blogs, lists, book tube videos, nothing. Being a skeptical curmudgeon, I had a bit of a frown. So, I popped it onto my OwlCrate shelf and moved on. But something about this book kept nagging at the back of my mind and it would pop into my head at odd times of the day. While I was curled up in bed reading about Darrow’s escapades in Iron Gold, I finally gave into the urge and went and snagged this book from my shelf.
From that point, I was off on an exciting adventure.
On the surface, this story may seem like it has all of the elements of a typical YA fantasy and in truth, it does. But this is why I become annoyed when people say that they won’t reads tropes. You know how themes end up as tropes? Because when they are done well they really work and let me tell you folks, the tropes worked in this book to great effect.
We have a young woman, Ailesse, who is coming into her own with strength of heart, body, and mind. Her mother treats her poorly and her father is dead but all she wants to do is follow in her mother’s footsteps to become a strong and capable leader. Her people ferry the souls of the dead into the afterworld and it takes someone with determination to accomplish this as many souls don’t want to go and they put up quite a fight. If a soul doesn’t go through to the afterworld they can essentially suck the life force from the living and over time it will kill the person so these Bone Criers MUST get the souls into the afterworld.
But really, plot aside, the star of this story is the characters. There is obviously a plot, and an entertaining one at that, but this is really a character driven book.
The entire cast is varied and unique. So often I find reading YA fantasy that the characters run together in my head because they all seem like copies of each other with just a tiny tweak and a new name.
In this book we have the fierce and confident Ailesse who is set on proving herself to her mother and her clan. But underneath she has room to grow, change, and learn to love but that fierce determination never leaves her.
Next we have her very best friend Sabine. Sabine is undetteredly loyal to Ailesse and has a soft, gentle heart. When Ailesse finds herself in some seriously deep trouble, Sabine has to find the courage to do what has to be done to save her friend even when nobody else is willing to do so.
Next there is the love interest Bastien. First of all, love the name. Bastien is a broken young man with a singular focus, avenge his murdered father. Bastien, I think, grows the most in this story. He has to learn to let the past go and embrace a future that he has started to long for.
All together, these characters and plot add up to be an enthralling ride. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next and stayed up entirely too late to read this book. It was everything I was looking for. Fun, easy to read, engaging story, and the plot kept ticking along without dragging.
There are two things I want to mention that are perhaps on the not fantastic side. This story is told through three POVs which are clearly indicated at the start of each chapter. Even if it wasn’t in blazing bold at the start of the chapter the character’s identities are different enough to tell them apart within the first sentence or two. I know multiple POV is on some people’s “No Go” list so I wanted to bring it up although I found it interesting.
Also, there is a support character named…Jules? I think? Anyway, I hate her guts. She is single minded and refuses to listen to advice, constructive criticism, logic, nothing gets through to this girl. She does have a significant role to play in the story but boy do I dislike her.
This review has rambled on long enough. If you are looking for a good, fun YA fantasy then look no further than Bone Crier’s Moon. When I started it I didn’t realize it was a part of a series and while it was quite the shocking surprise at the conclusion I absolutely cannot wait to read the next book! If that isn’t a glowing endorsement I don’t know what is.